Little Debbie Caramel Bars

I have a problem called I get addicted to things way too easily.  And by “things,” I mean certain food items. This seems like such a trivial matter to be seriously concerned about, but I think there’s potential for something catastrophic.

My current addiction is to Little Debbie Caramel Bars. I first bought them a few months ago. I was walking through Wal-Mart and while picking up a few groceries, I happened to spot them in the snack aisle. These caramel bars used to be my favorite snacks when I was a kid, but I hadn’t seen them for sale in years. When I noticed them, I decided that I must buy them and relive my childhood.

I treasured this first box, savoring every one of the eight bars. When I ran out of them, I searched Wal-Mart for some more. There were none to be had. I started making it a point to hunt for them during every trip I took to Wal-Mart. A few weeks went by, but I found nothing. It was odd, I thought, that they only seemed to be available during that one time.

Then, to my surprise, I saw them again one day. The packaging was different (more in line with a fall theme), but the box was unmistakably what I wanted. On my next couple of trips to Wal-Mart, I looked for them, but to no avail. Then once again, there they were! I bought two boxes to take advantage of this serendipitous moment. Not long after that trip, the caramel bars became a regular staple in the Little Debbie snack area.

A holiday occurrence prompted me to muse about my new food addiction. There are two other items that I’ve been addicted to before, and I mean seriously addicted. First were the Icebreaker mints. I got tired of gum, so I bought them one day. I started popping them all the time. I felt wild cravings for the mints and experienced withdrawal if I didn’t indulge. During one summer I had to pinch pennies, so Icebreaker mints had to go. It was difficult at first, but I don’t miss them. To this day, I will not allow myself to buy those mints.

I also was addicted to/am addicted to Rice Krispies Treats. If I buy a box, I will eat at least four a day. I can’t help it. I’ll feel the pull of them and try to resist only to have the craving overpower me. Therefore, I also don’t buy Rice Krispies treats.

But my family does. When I go visit them, I will find myself drawn to the Rice Krispies treats. And this is where the holiday happening comes in.

I am overweight, probably hideously fat. When I see my family, they sometimes feel the need to point this out and admonish me to watch my eating habits. This time, it was my brother. He told me that I should be more careful about what I eat and that he saw how, in the past, I’d devour Rice Krispies Treats. I was embarrassed that someone had noticed, so the fear of further embarrassment kept me away from them during that visit.

One day, I realized that I gravitated toward the Caramel Bars as I had toward the Rice Krispies Treats. I would eat one to four of them a day, and they added up. I resolved not to buy them anymore when I returned home. I finished the box I had, but I didn’t purchase a new one. I was successful for about two weeks. Then yesterday while I was at Wal-Mart, I felt such a persistent craving for them that I directed my steps toward the Little Debbie area and picked up a box. I tried to resist, but shamefully, I caved in.

I ate two caramel bars as soon as I got home. I ate two this morning. That means I’ve already eaten half of the stupid box.

I feel like when I eat one, I can’t just eat one. There’s this little trigger of intense pleasure somewhere in my brain, and to keep that switch on, I will eat more.

My hypothesis is that there’s some chemical explanation for these food addictions. That perhaps these foods will release some chemical that gives me pleasure. Maybe even with the caramel bars, it resonates somewhere in my brain that causes a pleasant childhood experience to repay itself. I have no scientific basis for these theories; they are merely my conjectures based off of what I’ve observed. If someone has an idea about any real science behind the phenomenon, I would love to hear it.

This current food addiction is just one of several reasons why I struggle with my weight. I believe that the main reason for my addiction, though, lies with depression. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve turned to food to soothe me when I’ve been my most depressed. And then there’s the defiance of my family and societal standards. I will think, so what if I’m fat? Why should it matter what I look like? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I think that I might also use fatness as a shield. I will sometimes feel that no one likes me because they see this grossly humongous person ambling around. I can fall back on that as an excuse for failing at social interaction. The truth is, however, that it’s my social anxiety that makes me socially inept. Still, I sometimes can’t help feeling that more people might approach me if I were more pleasing to the eye. But the failure doesn’t lie with my appearance, it lies with who I am.

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19 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

19 responses to “Little Debbie Caramel Bars

  1. There is definitely a chemical reaction that takes place in your brain when you eat something like either caramel bars or rice krispie treats etc. It’s less about a specific chemical and more to do with the sugar content. It does actually trigger the reward section of your brain which makes you crave more of them…then, with the level of glucose in your bloodstream…the craving becomes permanent. There isn’t a specific reason why it would be these caramel bars as opposed to some other “sweet” other than personal preference, but if you look up sugar addiction and the chemcial reactions that occur in your body, there is loads of scientific evidence that validate this theory. It totally sucks. Our body is programmed to seek out this type of “reward”. As for the psychological addiction (self-soothing with food etc) that is also “rational”. It’s similar with nicotine, for example. The pure physical cravings and chemical responses in the body only last for 3 days after you “quit” but the psychological cravings last MUCH longer than that. I know this doesn’t help with the addiction itself, but there are ways to reduce and remove the physical addiction (not eating any “hidden” excess sugar – you’d be surprised where it shows up!) but the psychological one is much trickier. Wishing you the best. xo.

    • Hmm. So perhaps the reason that it’s Rice Krispies Treats and caramel bars is psychological, perhaps a psychological reaction on top of the chemical one. Why the Icebreaker mints, though? That’s weird, ha.

      Thanks for the scientific explanation. I think that knowledge is the first step toward dealing with an issue, so it’s nice to have it. It seems that in this case I’ll have to do more to combat it than merely refuse to buy the product . . .

      • I’m not familiar with icebreaker mints…but do they contain aspartame? or some other artificial sweetener? It’s a curious fact that your body responds to artificial sweetener in the same way it does actual sugar…sort of. Digestion begins in the mouth, and signals are sent to the brain to say something sweet is arriving, please arrange for loads of insulin to be pumped into my blood stream to process this sugar. Unfortunately for your body, it’s not actually consuming actual sugar, so there is all this free insulin roaming around, which is bad. This sort of thing causes insulin resistance, in the same way that eating loads of sugar does.

        There will definitely need to be a multi-action approach to beating the addiction, but I’m sure you can. xo.

        • The official website doesn’t list the ingredients of Icebreaker mints, but elsewhere I’ve seen that it does indeed contain artificial sweeteners. I tend to drink lots of diet drinks, which definitely contain aspartame. Doesn’t sound like that’s good. I didn’t know anything about insulin resistance, and that’s interesting information. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Where do you find Little Debbie Carmel Bars?!?!?!. They don’t seem to exist anywhere but one shop around here. And I never manage to get over there. Not for something as trivial as that. Well, everyone else thinks it’s trivial. I love those things. They are incredibly addictive. Have you ever tried putting them in the freezer? Oh god, they are so delicious!

    I guess it’s for the better that they are out of my reach.

    There is a chemical response to those foods. I wrote about it in The Mood Swing Diet. When our mood sinks low, it might be a result of low sugar. Those foods bring sugar back up. But, when we overindulge, we start a cycle of high blood sugar, crash, eat candy, high blood sugar, etc. Now, sometimes our mood sinks and it triggers our mind to think that our blood sugar is low. And the cycle begins again.

    My suggestion? Enjoy your carmel bars. If you overindulge, water and exercise will bring your blood sugar to reasonable levels, so you won’t experience a crash again. It’s similar to what a diabetic or alcoholic experiences. That’s what perpetuates that particular cycle of addiction.

    Drink more water, period. Not too much. Your salt intake should be fine from all of the preservatives in food. Don’t worry about that. And if your mood starts dipping, have a little treat. Go ahead, no one is looking!

    • I hadn’t seen any caramel bars in ages until they suddenly started appearing in the local Wal-Mart. Perhaps they’re being phased into some markets again? I don’t know.

      I can easily overindulge in sweets. I try to cut them out, but I still get wild cravings. Now I can understand why that happens. My body must be used to having high blood sugar followed by crashes. I should drink more water. During this time of year, my mouth gets especially dry, so I guzzle it. Unfortunately, I don’t exercise as much as I should. I try to, but it bores me. Also, sometimes I start to feel sick. This usually happens after I’ve been exercising for a few weeks, so I don’t understand it. Maybe now that I have a Kindle I can entertain myself with more than music at the gym! (But I’m also self-conscious about others seeing me when I’m at the gym because of my appearance and slowness. I hated P.E. as a kid and was always terrible at it. I bet some of my aversion to exercise stems from that.)

      Oh, and I’ve never had a frozen caramel bar before. I’ll have to try that!

      • I will seek them out. I will eat caramel bars again, soon. LOL. Maybe they are only releasing them to certain retailers, I don’t know. I haven’t seen them at any Wal-mart’s recently, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’ve only been grocery shopping once so far this month.

        I feel the exact same way about exercise. That’s why I try to work it into my day Taking extra stairs, walking faster than I should, etc. But, teaching is more of a physical job than anyone would ever consider it! I know other jobs pretty much shackle people to a desk. (Groan, I’ve been there). Exercise is boring. That’s why I started running. I made a game out of it. Now, I sprained my ankle and it’s been awhile, but I was doing a mile in 5:25 or so. My current goal is to get back there and do a 5 minute mile.

        But, we’re also talking about doing this on a Wii Fit. It’s kind of exercise cheating.

        Frozen caramel bars are terrific!!! Best in the summer, but still yummy any other time.

        • Oh, yeah, I remember the advice you gave me about stairs and such. Sometimes I have to rush around to do things, and that might be exercise. I teach one class and give workshops, but I spend most of my time sitting down at my job. It gives me a mixture, I suppose.

          Exercise is exercise, even if it’s on a Wii Fit! However you get it in is good enough as long as you get it in, I’ll say!

          • I figure that between running for busses and climbing three flights of stairs, I’ve earned my exercise. Could I do more? Absolutely! But this is so much more comdtable.

            I wanted red velvet cake today so bad. I didn’t get my cupcakesm I’m so diasappoinred. I wanted it – badly.

  3. It’s not a failure, you’re not a failure. We all have problems somewhere in life.

    I know what you mean about food addictions, sort of. I have bbeen known to binge eat, when I can. I worry about the cost of food and about running out because I ate it all. So I try to eat only at designated food times, now.

    I think you should try something else that gives you pleasure, when you feel the urge to overeat your current food addiction. But like any addiction you can’t get over it alone.

  4. I also get addicted to certain foods not just sweets though. Right now I am addicted to slim fast bars and diet 7up. Sounds like no big deal right? It is abig deal when within 24 hours, I have sat down around three times with one of each flavor of slim fast bars and a 7up. It wakes me up at night. Don’t put yourself down about your weight. But you should try and keep your heart healthy and stay active. Look pretty for yourself, dont worry about what your brother says.

    • Yeah. I do need to be healthier, though. If only I didn’t find exercise so boring! Also, I’m just always self-conscious when I exercise. I think some of it has to do with bad memories from P.E. The other kids always made fun of me for how horrible I was at sports and exercising.

  5. I’ve seen lots of Little Debbie products, but I’ve never seen the caramel bars before and that’s a good thing!! :D I, too, have a sweet tooth and that used to be fine to indulge now and again. However, in the years leading up to the breakdown I began gaining weight. I had a secret I’d kept for almost 20 years and it needed to come out. I didn’t want it to come out. God arranged things to happen so that it had to come out because He knew it was killing me slowly to keep it inside. Since then, I’ve ballooned up to a weight I never imagined I’d get anywhere in the realm of. One day I was at a restaurant with out-of-town relatives and had gone to the restroom prior to leaving. Upon leaving the restroom a woman was headed straight toward me and I thought, ‘That fat woman is going to run right into me.’ So I moved to et out of her way. That’s when I realized that fat woman was me!! There were etched mirrors facing the restroom door. The etchings deceived me into not recognizing that it was a mirror — they were all over the place!! Then I deceived myself because I’d refused to look into a mirror for a long time — a full-length mirror — because I knew I was ugly and way too fat. I was shocked it was me!! I was shocked that my first description of who I thought was a stranger was the word “fat”!! Yet I also wondered if, because I’m usually a sensitive person, that was simply an adjective just as if I’d said, “dark brown-haired woman” or some other descriptive term. I don’t know which is true, but I hope it’s just because it was just a descriptor.

    I’m rambling into a different area than I meant to, which is usually what happens. I aim in one direction, take a side road, sometimes find my way back to the original direction and sometimes forget what that direction was!! That’s me!! Anyway, my original purpose for commenting, other than to tell you that I, too, have a sweet tooth, is that my experience in buying Little Debbie products is that they are just that: little!! I know they’re so much more inexpensive than other brand names, but you have to eat twice as much to equal what you’d get from another brand of the same product. So while I’ll intend to eat one piece of “cake” it turns out to be barely bigger than two of my fingers. That’s not a “piece of cake.” That’s a sliver. So I eat more of their product in one sitting than I’d intended. And if I’m in one of my “gotta have sweets” mood so that even that is not enough, I’ll keep eating. Little Debbie is my nemesis!! HA!! I’ll bet you haven’t heard that one before!! :D

    –Kathy

    P.S. I believe the reason I gained weight subconsciously before the breakdown and why I’ve kept it on is to provide literal layers of protection for myself from others. A lot of wrong things have been done to my body and I believe my thought process deep inside is that not only have I built a large shell around the real me, but because fat people are deemed ugly and disgusting, maybe it stop anyone from hurting me physically ever again. Of course it doesn’t stop people from looking at me with disgust or laughing at me, but I’ve dealt with ridicule all my life and I’m old enough now that most of the times it doesn’t hurt me.

    Also, like you, I get on these kicks where I just have to have a certain food for a while. It’s not like bingeing, it’s more of a craving. I’ll keep buying it and eating it and buying it again, etc. until suddenly I have had enough and I won’t buy that particular item again for a long time. I have no idea why this happening. I’m not talking about anything sweet, either. It covers the entire food pyramid!!

    • Hmm. That’s weird. I guess they don’t sell caramel bars where you live. I also get on kicks where I start eating things a lot, and they’re not all sweets. I think sometimes I try to purposefully make myself fat to validate my dislike of myself and subtly keep people away.

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